26 August 2011

Medieval Swords 10 August 2011

A weapon used in the Middle Ages by a Medieval Knight

Medieval SwordsThe weapons used during the Middle Ages include the Medieval Swords. The Medieval Swords was predominantly used by a Medieval Knight. The weapons, armor and horse of the Knight were extremely expensive - the fighting power of just one knight was worth 10 ordinary soldiers. Medieval swords were the primary weapon of the Knights. Medieval swords changed as Medieval Warfare and armour changed. At the beginning of the Middle Ages a double edged slashing sword was used but as time went by it evolved into a stronger, diamond-shaped sword that could thrust between the rings of chain mail more easily. There were many different types and styles of Medieval swords which formed part of the Medieval Swords history the names of the different Medieval swords included the Broadsword, Falchion sword, Longsword, Scimitar, and Greatsword.

Different Types of Medieval SwordsThe different types of Medieval swords ranged from the smallest Broadsword measuring from 30 inches to the Greatswords which measured up to 72 inches. The weight of Medieval swords are usually presumed to be a lot heavier than they actually were! Facts and a description of the different types of Medieval swords follow. For full details click on the appropriate link.
  • The Broadsword - The earliest of the Medieval swords from the 6th Century. The Broadsword had a two-edged blade measuring 2-3 inches wide at the base and tapering to a point. The length of the Broadsword ranged from 30 - 45 inches and weighed between 3 - 5 pounds

  • The Falchion Sword - A Falchion sword was favoured by some Medieval Knights who had been on Crusade. This sword was similar to a heavy scimitar. The Medieval Falchion swords had a short, heavy blade with a single edge

  • The Greatsword - The Greatswords were large two-handed swords. The length of the Greatsword ranged from from 50 to 72 inches, with a handle that measured 18 - 21 inches in additional length. Greatswords weighed between 6 - 10 pounds. The Greatsword featured an extended handle that allowed the blade to be used in two hands

  • The Longsword aka as the Bastardsword - Longswords (Bastardswords) are also known as Hand and a Half swords. The length of the Longsword (Bastardsword) ranged from from 44 to 50 inches in length.

  • The Scimitar - The scimitar was a type of sword most commonly associated with the Saracens in the Holy Land who fought against the Crusaders. Scimitars had a distinct curved blade ending with a sharp point

  • The Cutting sword - These swords were at first used by early Medieval Knights and were also particularly favoured by the the Vikings. A slashing stroke would be used but this became ineffective against heavy body armour
Medieval Swords TrainingSkill in the use of Medieval weapons and understanding the strategy of Medieval Warfare was necessary and a played a vital part in Medieval life. The training required by a Knight to use Medieval Swords was extremely time consuming - it was necessary for them to become expert Medieval Swordsmen. Special places were assigned for the Medieval Swords training called the Pell. Pell training allowed knights to practise various vicious strokes and manoeuvres with their Medieval Swords such as thrusting, cutting, and slicing without imposing an injury on his opponent.

Pell Training

Medieval Training Swords - Batons Knights in Training Combats used swords called batons. A sword training combat was settled by either a set number of counted blows, or until one or both combatants had been “satisfied” i.e. had enough. Certain blows or manoeuvres using the training swords, batons, were allocated set numbers of points. 
  • Thrusts to the body, shoulder and face counted as three points
  • An immobilization or disarm was counted as three points
  • Thrusts to the rest of the body or wrists counted for one point
  • Strikes made with the use of the pommel or quillon also counted for one point

Decoration of Medieval Swords
A Medieval sword also held great symbolic importance and featured strongly in the formal Ceremony of Knighthood. This symbolic meaning was even illustrated in the Medieval swords design as the crossguard (quillion), formed across the handle of the sword, resembled a Christian cross. Giving a Knight the 'Right' to use the sword in defence of the Christian religion. Medieval swords also featured some form of engraving. The engravings on Medieval Swords might include the sword owner's name and words from a prayer. Engravings might also be purely decorative and embellished with the inclusion of jewels.

Names of different parts of Medieval Swords
The names of the different parts of a Medieval sword are as follows together with facts and information about their history:
  • The Blade - The blades of Medieval swords which were used in England were usually straight with two sharpened edges. The history of Blades shows that they were first made of Bronze, then iron and culminating in the steel Medieval swords
  • The Crossguard or Quillion - This was the handle of the sword resembling the shape of the Christian cross. Expensive to produce and sometimes covered in precious metals - bronze, silver or gold
  • The Edge - The cutting part of the blade. Medieval swords were designed to be used for blows directly against the opponent's body or shield and in the edge to edge style of sword fighting
  • The Forte - The strongest part of the swords blade, nearest the hilt
  • The Fuller - The central shallow on a straight double edged blade - also referred to as the 'Blood Gutter'!
  • The Grip - The hilt of swords held in the hand of the Knight. The Grip was often made of horn or wood, covered in leather and contoured to fit in the hand
  • The Hilt - The Hilt is the handle of the sword made up of the crossguard, grip and the pommel. The personal engravings on the hilt, and its expense, would often ensure that when a blade was disguarded the hilt would be re-used
  • The Pommel -The pommel was part of the hilt which acted as a counterweight to the blade on Medieval swords
  • The Tang - The tang was the unsharpened end of the sword blade covered by the hilt

Medieval Swords
Each section of Middle Ages Weapons provides interesting facts and information about Medieval warfare in addition to the Medieval Swords. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of the Medieval period of the Middle Ages!

Medieval Swords
  • Interesting Facts and information about Medieval Swords used in warfare during the Middle Ages
  • Description of the Medieval Swords
  • Different Types of Medieval Swords - the Broadsword, Falchion sword, Longsword, Scimitar, and Greatsword
  • Medieval Swords Training
  • Decoration of Medieval Swords
  • Names of different parts of Medieval Swords

Knights Weapons Thursday, 25 August 2011

The weapons used in the Middle Ages ( Medieval period ) by Knights
Different Types of Knights WeaponsSkill in the use of Medieval weapons and understanding the strategy of Medieval Warfare was necessary and a played a vital part in Medieval life of a knight. Knights Weapons included the following devices. Facts and information about all of the above Knights Weapons can be accessed by clicking one of the following links:

Medieval Swords
Falchion sword 

Basic, short description of Knights WeaponsThe next descriptions provides basic information about each of the knights weapons:
  • Daggers - Short pointed knives

  • Flail - A jointed weapon consisting of a spiked or knobbed steel head joined by a chain to 
    a short wood handle
  • Maces - Maces developed from a steel ball on a wooden handle, to an elaborately spiked steel war club
  • Lance - A long, strong, spear-like weapon. Designed for use on horseback
  • Swords - A variety of different types of swords were used as Knights weapons
Knights Weapons TrainingSkill in the use of Medieval weapons and understanding the strategy of Medieval Warfare was necessary and a played a vital part in Medieval life. Knights weapons training required a long an arduous training period spreading over at least a fourteen year period and through their training as a page then a squire and eventually a knight. All of the Knights weapons required a high degree of skill and expertise together with strength and agility. Knights weapons training was therefore an extremely aspect of a Medieval knight during the Middle Ages. Various training methods were applied to suit each of the Knights weapons. Training in the use of the lance was practised at the Quintain and included tilting and "Running at the Rings". Training in the use of swords and other close combat weapons were practised at the Pell. Knights weapons training even extended into a game - Pell Mell! Facts and information about each of this training are described via the links detailed below
Pell Training
Pell Mell
The importance of the Medieval Knights WeaponsThe Middle Ages was an extremely violent era in history featuring battles in both Europe and the Holy Land when the crusades, and the crusaders who fought them, were numerous. Feudal Lords and Knights used such weapons as swords, lances, daggers and battle axes in different types of warfare. The quest for power led to invasions of lands and territories which had to be fought for. Siege warfare, waged to win a castle or a walled town or city, was a frequent occurrence during the Middle Ages. Warfare during the Middle Ages, or Medieval era called for a variety of weapon expertise. Knights and men-at-arms ( foot soldiers, or archers ) used different types of weapons. The Knights Weapons, their armor and their horses were extremely expensive - the fighting power of just one knight was worth 10 ordinary soldiers.

Knights Weapons
Each section of Middle Ages Weapons provides interesting facts and information about Medieval warfare in addition to the Knights Weapons. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of the Medieval period of the Middle Ages!

Knights Weapons
  • Middle Ages era, period, life, age and times
  • Middle Ages Castles, Knights, Crusaders, Crusaders and Weapons
  • Interesting Facts and information about Medieval Knights Weapons used in warfare during the Middle Ages
  • Description of the Knights Weapons
  • Knights Weapons training
  • Lance, swords, daggers, maces and flails

Middle Ages Weapons Thursday, 25 August 2011

Middle Ages WeaponsThe period referred to as the Middle Ages was extremely violent. The quest for wealth and power was driven by the violent culture of the European countries. Castles were built to act as power bases. Lands were subject to invasion. There was the need for a variety of Middles Ages weapons to suit the Knights, foot soldiers and archers of the Era. This was the period of the Norman conquest and the battle of Hastings. The fighting in Europe had a brief respite when the attentions of the Medieval warlords turned their attention to the Holy Land when their Middle Ages weapons were used by the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights and the Hospitallers to fight in the crusades. Middle Ages Weaponry was vital to the religious knights.

What are the weapons of the Middle Ages?
There were basically two types of armed men during the Medieval era who used different weapons available during the Middle Ages:
  • The Knights
  • The Foot soldiers, who included the Archers
The Medieval men-at-arms held weapons according to their status and position which was determined by the Feudal system. The weapons, weaponry, armor and horse of the Knight were extremely expensive. Lords were expected to provide soldiers who were trained in a variety of Middle Ages weapons. Knights were supported by their soldiers and the Middle Ages weapons used by the lower classes included

Battle Axes

The Knights themselves used different Middle Ages weapons riding on their warhorses - every knight had spent their whole lives gaining expertise in the use of the lance, swords and daggers.

Knights Weapons
Medieval Swords
Falchion sword
Medieval Shields

Weapons used in the Middle Ages and the influence of the Feudal System
The increasing number and variety of Middle Ages weapons was partly due to the requirements of the Medieval Feudal System. Life lived under the Medieval Feudal System demanded that everyone owed allegiance to the King and their immediate superior. Everyone was expected to pay for the land by providing the following services:
  • Providing trained soldiers to fight for the King
  • Providing equipment - clothes and weapons - for the soldiers
Skill in the use of Middle Ages weapons was necessary and a played a vital part in Medieval life. Every man was expected to be able to use a Medieval weapon. When war erupted troops were raised by the Feudal Levy when there was a 'Call to Arms'. Under the Feudal Levy men were required to fight for a limited period of 40 days - under certain circumstances this could be increased to 90 days.

Middle Ages Weapons - Siege Weapons
The style of warfare during the Middle Ages were fought around the power bases - the great castles of the Middle Ages. This Medieval style of warfare required different weapons - the massive and deadly siege weapons of the Middle Ages. Siege weapons were made to order! The most famous Medieval Siege Weapons used during the era included:
  • The Ballistas
  • The Mangonels
  • The Battering rams
  • The Trebuchets

Middle Ages Groups of Weapons
The groups of Medieval weapons, or weaponry, used in the Middle Ages therefore fell into three categories:
  • Siege Weapons
  • The Weapons used by Knights and the Crusaders
  • The Weapons used by the foot soldiers
Middle Ages Weapons TrainingTraining in the use of the lance was practised at the Quintain and included tilting and "Running at the Rings". Training in the use of swords and other close combat weapons were practised at the Pell. Knights weapons training even extended into a game - Pell Mell! Facts and information about each of this training are described via the links detailed below:
Pell Training
Pell Mell

Middle Ages Weapons
Each section of this Middle Ages website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about these great reminders of bygone times. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Middle Ages! 
Middle Ages Weapons
  • Middle Ages era, period, life, age and times
  • Medieval Siege weapons - the Mangonel, Battering Ram, Trebuchet and the Ballista
  • Middle Ages Weapons used by Knights and the Crusaders - the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights and Hospitallers
  • Knights weapons - the lance, sword and dagger
  • Middle Ages Weapons used by the foot soldiers Battle Axes, Maces, Daggers, Billhooks, Caltrops, Flails, Halberds, Longbows, Short Bows, Pikes, Poleaxes, Quarterstaffs, Spears and the Warhammers

Chivalric Ideals Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Value: The knights must endure personal sacrifices to serve the ideals and the needy. This involves choosing costa.El keep truth at all value does not mean being stupid arrogant, but be willing to do right.These characters were of great value, capable of fighting with great courage against superior beings that kept people from the villages terrorized. The Knights were able to confront people with greater ability to fight, without measuring consecuencias.Por example: making Valencia Pedro Bermudez, Alvarez y Muñoz Guzto Fañez heroically fighting against an army much larger than themselves.

Defense: The knights swore when they were promoted, to defend their lords and ladies, their families, their nation, widows and orphans, and the Church. In defense of these ideals and individuals.

Faith: The gentlemen had a strong faith in God allowed them to carry out a lifetime of sacrifice and temptations, giving them strong roots and hope against the evil in the world. For example: El Cid always before a battle, prayed to God and He knew that success depended on luck.

Humility: The humble gentlemen were the first to tell the others when carrying out acts of great heroism, giving them the honor they deserve for their good deeds. Leaving or others who congratulated them on their own facts and these are offered to God. This is one of the salient features of a caballero.Por example: El Cid always attributed the success of the battles to the courage of their soldiers and the riches earned proportionally distributed.

Justice: For the guys was very important to seek the truth above all, the Knights did not seek personal gain.Justice untempered by mercy can bring grief, however. Justice sought by the knights without bending to the temptation was used by them. For example: El Cid may well have killed the infants Carrión but preferred to do a trial and just punishment.

Generosity: Generosity was a hallmark of a gentleman. To counter the weakness of greed, the Knights were as abundant as their resources allow. A generous gentleman can walk better line between mercy and justice fría.Por example: El Cid divided the assets of battles won and it was generous to the defeated enemies as Count Berenguer.

Temperance: The gentleman was accustomed to eat and drink in moderation. In addition, the gentleman should be moderate with his wealth, this did not mean to abstain from them but do not use vain. Without self-control could not maintain the honor of knighthood. The gentleman should restrain their sexual appetites.

Loyalty: The good knights swore fervently defend their ideals, the Church and their masters, they would give their lives to defend them. For example: El Cid may well have fought and defeated King Alfonso, but he was loyal and followed their orders of banishment.

Nobility: Nobility is the principle of courtesy. And so the knights had to be polite, honest, estimable, generous and illustrious equitable to all developed and maintained while a noble character with the ideals of chivalry. A gentleman is always a role model.

Knights World Tuesday, 23 August 2011

History of Knights

Like most periods in history, the era of knights evolved gradually. The term "knight" originates from the Anglo-Saxon name for a boy: "cniht". Indeed, most early knights were not much more than hired "boys" who performed military service and took oaths of loyalty to any well-to-do nobleman or warlord offering the most promise of money or war booty.
In the chaos and danger of post-Roman Western Europe, the population had very little organized governmental protection from brigands and conquering warbands. Knowing there was safety in numbers, local lords (who could afford it) gathered around them young, fighting-age men to fend off rebellious vassals or conquering neighbors. These men, in turn, were rewarded with war booty for their service and loyalty. Soon, grants of land were made so the young soldiers could receive an income from those lands and afford the high cost of outfitting themselves with the accoutrements of war, such as horses, armor, and weapons. The era of the medieval knight had begun.
It wasn't long before some knights began to treat their land grants as hereditary rights (usually transferring ownership to the eldest son upon death), thus beginning the rise of knights as a "landed" class whose importance went beyond simply being a military "free-agent". Knights soon found themselves involved in local politics, the dispensation of justice, and numerous other required tasks for their sovereign, or liege lord.

The knight's effectiveness depended greatly on his ability to stay mounted on his horse during combat. With the advent of the stirrup during the 8th and 9th centuries, a man could brace himself on horseback as he charged the ranks of his enemy, transferring the power of man and charging horse onto his opponent. This "shock" combat by mounted men armed with a spear or couched lance, and protected with armor, proved a powerful military innovation.

Medieval Armor: 
Armor of a Knight

Protecting oneself in battle has always been a concern for any soldier, and medieval knights were no exception. In fact, it was their protective armor that helped define them as a military unit and social class. Armoring one's self during the Middle Ages was a great expense that only the wealthy could afford.

Among the earliest metallic armor to be worn by medieval knights was chainmail armor, consisting of tens of thousands of interlocking rings woven painstakingly by hand to form a shirt, coif, or leggings. Because of the mild steel produced in medieval times each ring had to be riveted to keep all the rings from spreading and opening under the weight of the piece. Underneath the metal armor the knight would wear a padded garment known variously as an "aketon," or "gambeson." To this defensive equipment he added a shield, usually made of leather-covered wood, and a helmet (seeKnights And Armor's Helmet Page) . As the medieval arms race progressed and new, more powerful weapons were developed (such as the longbow and crossbow), chainmail became ineffective on its own.

Late in the Middle Ages plate armor began to appear (ca. late 13th/early 14th century), first as reinforcements to vital areas such as the chest and shoulders, and finally as a complete suit (ca. early 15th century). The medieval "knight in shining armor" that most people think of is the fully plate-armored knight. Chainmail armor was now relegated to protecting smaller vital areas that could not be covered with plate armor, such as the groin and under the arms. The shield became smaller, or disappeared altogether as it became unnecessary and redundant.

Ironically, it was soon after the development of the full suit of plate armor that the medieval knight's advantage in battle began to wane. With the effective use of gunpowder weapons (ca. 15th/16th century) the face of combat changed. The cumbersome armor of a knight proved ineffective and impractical against new weapons and tactics. The knight and his plate armor were now relegated to ceremonial duties and displays. These "ceremonial" suits of armor are usually very ornate, featuring extensive fluting, intricate engravings, and other decorative features more at home in the world of fashion than battlefield utility.

Weapons of a Knight

The sword was a standard fighting weapon long before the evolution of the medieval knight. Nevertheless, the medieval knight found the sword to be an effective weapon. Medieval swords usually were made from a mild steel (low carbon steel). Most swords were double-edged, and featured a crossguard, hilt, and pommel. Many surviving examples of medieval swords feature some form of engraving, such as a prayer, or the sword owner's name. How elaborate the sword was decorated depended upon its owner's wealth, with some of the more intricate ones encrusted with jewels and fine engravings.
Apart from the sword another standard weapon of a knight was the lance. Lances were usually made of wood, with metal tips. In the early Norman period lances appear to have been little more than spears. As the Middle Ages progressed, lances developed a stouter appearance, including the addition of handguards and specialized metal tips. As a weapon, the lance enabled the knight to take advantage of his superior position on horseback as it provided the length necessary to engage opponents while still mounted. After the lance became broken or dropped the knight could rely on his sword, dismounting if necessary.

Other weapons finding use in the hands of the medieval knight were the axe, mace (metal club), and war hammer. It was, however, the sword and lance that the knight more often than not depended upon as his chosen weapons.
For the knight's opponents on the ground who had to answer his advantageous longer reach, they developed assorted long-handled bladed weapons that went by many different names (pike, halberd, etc.). Archers were always a concern for the knight as they could hit targets from a distance. Many knights believed archer's methods to be cowardly, as they did not engage in hand-to-hand combat, but struck from afar. Nevertheless, archers became an integral part of medieval warfare, and were decisive factors in famous medieval battles, such as Crécy (1346) and Agincourt (1415).
The weapons of a knight still hold fascination for many people today. Weapons catalogs, Medieval and Renaissance Faires, and museums continue to draw attention to the brutal and deadly weapons of the medieval knight.

Life of a Knight 

Training for knighthood during medieval times usually began at an early age. Often the prospective knight was sent to live with a relative or lord who had the resources to train the young boy in use of weapons and, most importantly, the skills to handle a horse in combat. A knight-in-training would often serve as a squire (assistant) for an established knight, attending his needs, helping him don his armor, and making ready his horse and weapons.
Once his training was completed and he reached "fighting age" (usually around 16-20 years old), he would ceremoniously become a full-fledged knight. The ceremony became more elaborate as the Middle Ages progressed, until only the richest nobles or a king could afford to "knight" someone.
The new knight now served his liege lord (which may or may not be the king himself), bound to offer military service up to 40 days a year in peace time, more, as needed, in war time. Military duties included castle guard, serving in the lord's "bodyguard", and participating in battle.
Apart from military duties the knight could also participate in administering justice (as part of assizes--a medieval form of our modern juries), manage his estates (which was his prime source of income), and continue to hone his combat skills in tournament.

The Tournament

The tournament in the early Middle Ages (ca. 800-1200 C.E.) was often a meleé, resembling actual combat in groups that could result in injuries or even death. Men were taken hostage and held for ransom, horses and armor confiscated by the captors. As kings and churchmen grew concerned over this senseless loss of life and resources new regulations and safety measures were put into effect. The meleé was replaced by individual combat events (among them the joust), and new innovations in armor specifically designed for the tournament made it somewhat safer.

The Crusades

As Islam spread after its inception in the 7th century C.E., the lands held sacred by Christians fell under Moslem rule. The pope, Urban II, in 1095 C.E. began the pursuit of reconquering these former Christian lands (particularly Jerusalem), by visiting areas in Western Europe and preaching the need for a "crusade" against the infidels.
Many nobles and knights went on crusade with the hope of not only reconquering the holy land, but of carving out for themselves fiefs and kingdoms in this land of "milk and honey". The first leaders to "take the cross" succeeded in retaking Jerusalem in 1096. After this initial venture, there followed subsequent crusades which attempted to free Jerusalem again, but none succeeded like the first crusade. Throughout the next two hundred years the battle for Jerusalem between Islam and Christianity continued, with one side gaining ground just to lose it again to the other. Ultimately, Jerusalem fell to the Moslems in 1244 not to be regained by Christians again during the Middle Ages.

In the end the resources needed and the crusading ideal itself fell short of Pope Urban II's dream of a united Christian holy land. Later crusades were directed not at Islam, but at Constantinople, pagan peoples of Eastern Europe, and heretics in France, among others.
Although some critics are quick to write off the crusades as an excercise in futility and exacerbating religious strife between Islam and Christianity, the cultural interaction that developed as a result of the crusades broadened the cultural horizons of medieval Europeans. This exposure to Eastern culture encouraged the development of new forms of scientific study and allowed access to previously unknown classical literature, thus facilitating the humanist movement of the Renaissance period.
From the crusades also sprouted the military orders, such as the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller, and the Teutonic Knights. These "fighting monks" became well organized armed forces, and accrued large sums of money from the management of lands they conquered, or given to them for the Christian cause.

The word, "chivalry", comes from the French word, "chevalerie", which means "skills to handle a horse". The ability to handle a horse, especially in combat, was of utmost importance to a medieval knight. As the Middle Ages progressed, the term "chivalry" began to take on new meanings.
It was around the time of the preaching of the first crusade (1095 C.E.) that the Christianization of knights began in earnest. With the crusades as a "holy war" the pope needed the support of the nobles and knights of Europe to help him with his agenda of ridding Jerusalem of Islam, and returning the "land of Christ" to Christian sovereignty. By bestowing the title of Christian warriors to the knights, the pope had begun the evolution of a code of conduct that all knights were supposed to follow.

The protection of the poor, women and children, and defense of the church were just some of the chivalry codes that a knight was supposed to always obey. In combat when nobles and knights were taken prisoner, their lives were spared and were often held for ransom in somewhat comfortable surroundings. This same code of conduct did not apply to non-knights (archers, peasants, foot-soldiers, etc.), who were often slaughtered after capture.
However well intended this "chivalric code" was, it rarely affected most knights, who plundered, slaughtered, and looted often when given the chance. Our modern notion of knights is very much based in the ideas of chivalry, and it is the survival of medieval romantic writings that tend to show knights as the chivalrous ideal, that sways our view of medieval knighthood.


Heraldry (symbols identifiable with individuals or families) originated as a way to identify knights in battle or in tournaments. With the advent of the "great" or "barrel" helm (ca. early 13th century) an individual's face became concealed. It therefore became necessary to create a method to distinguish ally from enemy.
Heraldic symbols ranged from simple geometric shapes such as chevrons, to more elaborate drawings of real or mythological animals. As with the honor of becoming a knight, heraldic insignia became hereditary, being passed on from father to son, or with the family name. Eventually heraldic symbols also came to signify kingdoms, duchies, or provinces as a medieval forerunner to our modern national flags.
Heraldic symbols were often worn on the knight's surcoat (thus the term "coat of arms"), shield, helmet, or on a banner (standard) that could serve as a rallying point for knights and others scattered in the chaos of battle. The standard was always to be elevated as long as the battle continued, and therefore was guarded well. A standard taken down would signal the allied combatants that the cause was lost and it was time to flee the field of combat.
Today heraldry is usually associated with individual families' coat of arms. Researching heraldry has become a hobby for many people. The art and science of heraldry, with its medieval beginnings, is still alive and well in our modern world.

Information took it from http://www.knightsandarmor.com/heraldry.htm

The Medieval Knight Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The knight was one of three types of fighting men during the middle ages: Knights, Foot Soldiers, and Archers. The medieval knight was the equivalent of the modern tank. He was covered in multiple layers of armor, and could plow through foot soldiers standing in his way. No single foot soldier or archer could stand up to any one knight. Knights were also generally the wealthiest of the three types of soldiers. This was for a good reason. It was terribly expensive to be a knight. The war horse alone could cost the equivalent of a small airplane. Armor, shields, and weapons were also very expensive. Becoming a knight was part of the feudal agreement. In return for military service, the knight received a fief. In the late middle ages, many prospective knights began to pay "shield money" to their lord so that they wouldn't have to serve in the king's army. The money was then used to create a professional army that was paid and supported by the king. These knights often fought more for pillaging than for army wages. When they captured a city, they were allowed to ransack it, stealing goods and valuables.

Becoming a Knight: 

There were only a few ways in which a person could become a knight. The first way was the normal course of action for the son of a noble: 

When a boy was eight years old, he was sent to the neighboring castle where he was trained as a page. The boy was usually the son of a knight or of a member of the aristocracy. He spent most of his time strengthening his body, wrestling and riding horses. He also learned how to fight with a spear and a sword. He practiced against a wooden dummie called a quintain. It was essentially a heavy sack or dummie in the form of a human. It was hung on a wooden pole along with a shield. The young page had to hit the shield in its center. When hit, the whole structure would spin around and around. The page had to maneuver away quickly without getting hit. The young man was also taught more civilized topics. He would be taught to read and write by a schoolmaster. He could also be taught some Latin and French. The lady of the castle taught the page to sing and dance and how to behave in the king’s court. 

At the age of fifteen or sixteen, a boy became a squire in service to a knight. His duties included dressing the knight in the morning, serving all of the knight’s meals, caring for the knight’s horse, and cleaning the knight’s armor and weapons. He followed the knight to tournaments and assisted his lord on the battlefield. A squire also prepared himself by learning how to handle a sword and lance while wearing forty pounds of armor and riding a horse. When he was about twenty, a squire could become a knight after proving himself worthy. A lord would agree to knight him in a dubbing ceremony. The night before the ceremony, the squire would dress in a white tunic and red robes. He would then fast and pray all night for the purification of his soul. The chaplain would bless the future knight's sword and then lay it on the chapel or church's altar. Before dawn, he took a bath to show that he was pure, and he dressed in his best clothes. When dawn came, the priest would hear the young man's confession, a Catholic contrition rite. The squire would then eat breakfast. Soon the dubbing ceremony began. The outdoor ceremony took place in front of family, friends, and nobility. The squire knelt in front of the lord, who tapped the squire lightly on each shoulder with his sword and proclaimed him a knight. This was symbolic of what occurred in earlier times. In the earlier middle ages, the person doing the dubbing would actually hit the squire forcefully, knocking him over. After the dubbing, a great feast followed with music and dancing. 

A young man could also become a knight for valor in combat after a battle or sometimes before a battle to help him gain courage.


Knights believed in the code of chivalry. They promised to defend the weak, be courteous to all women, be loyal to their king, and serve God at all times. Knights were expected to be humble before others, especially their superiors. They were also expected to not "talk too much". In other words, they shouldn't boast. The code of chivalry demanded that a knight give mercy to a vanquished enemy. However, the very fact that knights were trained as men of war belied this code. Even though they came from rich families, many knights were not their families' firstborn. They did not receive an inheritance. Thus they were little more than mercenaries. They plundered villages or cities that they captured, often defiling and destroying churches and other property. Also the code of chivalry did not extend to the peasants. The "weak" was widely interpreted as "noble women and children". They were often brutal to common folk. They could sometimes even rape young peasant women without fear of reprisal, all because they were part of the upper class.

Armor and Weapons:
A knight was armed and armored to the teeth. He had so much armor and weapons that he depended on his squire to keep his armor and weapons clean and in good working condition. At first the armor was made of small metal rings called chain mail. A knight wore a linen shirt and a pair of pants as well as heavy woolen pads underneath the metal-ringed tunic. A suit of chain mail could have more than 200,000 rings. However, chain mail was heavy, uncomfortable, and difficult to move in. As time passed, knights covered their bodies with plates of metal. Plates covered their chests, back, arms, and legs. A bucket like helmet protected the knight’s head and had a hinged metal visor to cover his face. Suits of armor were hot, uncomfortable, and heavy to wear. A suit of armor weighed between forty and sixty pounds. Some knights even protected their horses in armor. 

A knight also needed a shield to hold in front of himself during battle. Shields were made of either wood or metal. Knights decorated their shields with their family emblem or crest and the family motto. 

A knight'’s weapon was his sword, which was about thirty-two pounds. It was worn on his left side in a case fastened around his waist. A knife was worn on the knight’s right side. Knights used other weapons in combat as well. A lance was a long spear used in jousts. Metal axes, battle hammers, and maces were also used to defeat the enemy.


Tournaments provided a means for knights to practice warfare and build their strength in times of peace. Tournaments were essentially mock battles with audiences. The audience was usually made up of "fair damsels". This was another way in which a knight was expected to act chivalrous. The tournaments had different rules that had to be followed. They were judged by umpires that watched for dishonest play. Tournaments were usually fought between either two people or two teams. If two people fought a tournament, it was usually by jousting. The two knights would gallop across the playing field at each other. They carried long, blunt poles and shields. The objective was to knock the other person out of his saddle. Team play was conducted with fierce mock combat between two bands of fighters. They fought with wooden or blunted weapons so as to reduce the risk of getting hurt. However, this was often not the case. Many people did get hurt or die by accident. 

Information took if from http://library.thinkquest.org/10949/fief/medknight.html

Growth And Decadence Of Chivalry part 4 Monday, 22 August 2011

No: painters have not sufficiently portrayed them in the arid plains of
Asia forming an incomparable squadron in the midst of the battle.  One might
talk forever and yet not say too much about the charge of the Cuirassiers at
Reichshoffen; but how many times did the Hospitaller knights and the Templars
charge in similar fashion?  Those soldier-monks, in truth, invented a new idea
of courage.  Unfortunately they were not always fighting, and peace troubled
some of them.  They became too rich, and their riches lowered them in the eyes
of men and before heaven.  We do not intend to adopt all the calumnies which
have been circulated concerning the Templars, but it is difficult not to admit
that many of these accusations had some foundation. The Hospitallers, at any
rate, have given no ground for such attacks.  They, thank heaven, remained
undefiled, if not poor, and were an honor to that chivalry which others had
compromised and emasculated.

     But when all is said, that which best became chivalry, the spice which
preserved it the most surely, was poverty!

     Love of riches had not only attacked the chivalrous orders, but in a very
short space of time all knights caught the infection.  Sensuality and
enjoyment had penetrated into their castles.  "Scarcely had they received the
knightly baldric before they commenced to break the commandments and to
pillage the poor.  When it became necessary to go to war, their sumpterhorses
were laden with wine, and not with weapons; with leathern bottles instead of
swords; with spits instead of lances.  One might have fancied, in truth, that
they were going out to dinner, and not to fight.  It is true their shields
were beautifully gilt, but they were kept in a virgin and unused condition.
Chivalrous combats were represented upon their bucklers and their saddles,
certainly; but that was all!"

     Now who is it who writes thus?  It is not, as one might fancy, an author
of the fifteenth century - it is a writer of the twelfth; and the greatest
satirist, somewhat excessive and unjust in his statements, the Christian
Juvenal whom we have just quoted, was none other than Peter of Blois.

     A hundred other witnesses might be cited in support of these indignant
words.  But if there is some exaggeration in them, we are compelled to confess
that there is a considerable substratum of truth also.

     These abuses - which wealth engendered, which more than one poet has
stigmatized - attracted, in the fourteenth century, the attention of an
important individual, a person whose name occupies a worthy place in
literature and history.  Philip of Mezieres, chancellor of Cyprus under Peter
of Lusignan, was a true knight, who one day conceived the idea of reforming
chivalry.  Now the way he found most feasible in accomplishing his object, in
arriving at such a difficult and complex reform, was to found a new order of
chivalry himself, to which he gave the high-sounding title of "the Chivalry of
the Passion of Christ."

     The decadence of chivalry is attested, alas! by the very character of the
reformers by which this well-meaning Utopian attempted to oppose it.  The good
knight complains of the great advances of sensuality, and permits and advises
the marriage of all knights.  He complains of the accursed riches which the
Hospitallers themselves were putting to a bad use, and forbade them in his
Institutions; but nevertheless the luxurious habits of his time had an
influence upon his mind, and he permitted his knights to wear the most
extravagant costumes, and the dignitaries of his order to adopt the most
high-sounding titles.  There was something mystical in all this conception,
and something theatrical in all this agency.  It is hardly necessary to add
that the "Chivalry of the Passion" was only a beautiful dream, originating in
a generous mind.  Notwithstanding the adherence of some brilliant personages,
the order never attained to more than a theoretical organization, and had only
a fictitious foundation.  The idea of the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre
from the Infidel was hardly the object of the fifteenth-century chivalry; for
the struggle between France and England then was engaging the most courageous
warriors and the most practised swords.  Decay hurried on apace!

     This was not the only cause of such a fatal falling away.  The portals of
chivalry had been opened to too many unworthy candidates.  It had been made
vulgar!  In consequence of having become so cheap the grand title of "knight"
was degraded.  Eustace Deschamps, in his fine, straightforward way, states the
scandal boldly and "lashes" it with his tongue.  He says: "Picture to yourself
the fact that the degree of knighthood is about to be conferred now upon
babies of eight and ten years old."

     Well might this excellent man exclaim in another place: "Disorders always
go on gathering strength, and even incomparable knights like Du Guesclin and
Bayard cannot arrest the fatal course of the institution toward ruin."
Chivalry was destined to disappear.

     It is very important that one should make one's self acquainted with the
true character of such a downfall.  France and England in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries still boasted many high-bred knights.  They exchanged the
most superb defiances, the most audacious challenges, and proceeded from one
country to another to run each other through the body proudly.  The
Beaumanoirs, who drank their blood, abounded.  It was a question who would
engage himself in the most incredible pranks; who would commit the most daring
folly!  They tell us afterward of the beautiful passages of arms, the grand
feats performed, and the inimitable Froissart is the most charming of all
these narrators, who make their readers as chivalrous as themselves.

     But we must tell everything: among these knights in beautiful armor there
was a band of adventurers who never observed, and who could not understand,
certain commandments of the ancient chivalry.  The laxity of luxury had
everywhere replaced the rigorous enactments of the old manliness, and even
warriors themselves loved their ease too much.  The religious sentiment was
not the dominant one in their minds, in which the idea of a crusade now never
entered.  They had not sufficient respect for the weakness of the Church nor
for other failings.  They no longer felt themselves the champions of the good
and the enemies of evil.  Their sense of justice had become warped, as had
love for their great native land.

     Again, what they termed "the license of camps" had grown very much worse;
and we know in what condition Joan of Arc found the army of the King.
Blasphemy and ribaldry in every quarter.  The noble girl swept away these
pests, but the effect of her action was not long-lived.  She was the person to
reestablish chivalry, which in her found the purity of its now-effaced type;
but she died too soon, and had not sufficient imitators.

     There were, after her time, many chivalrous souls, and, thank heaven,
there are still some among us; but the old institution is no longer with us.
The events which we have had the misfortune to witness do not give us any
ground to hope that chivalry, extinct and dead, will rise again to-morrow to
light and life.

     In St. Louis' time, caricature and parody - they were low-class forces,
but forces nevertheless - had already commenced the work of destruction.  We
are in possession of an abominable little poem of the thirteenth century,
which is nothing but a scatological pamphlet directed against chivalry.  This
ignoble Audigier, the author of which is the basest of men, is not the only
attack which one may disinter from amid the literature of that period.  If one
wishes to draw up a really complete list it would be necessary to include the
fabliaux - the Renart and the Rose, which constitute the most anti-chivalrous
- I had nearly written the most Voltairian - works that I am acquainted with.
The thread is easy enough to follow from the twelfth century down to the
author of Don Quixote - which I do not confound with its infamous predecessors
- to Cervantes, whose work has been fatal, but whose mind was elevated.

     However that may be, parody and the parodists were themselves a cause of
decay.  They weakened morals.  Gallic-like, they popularized little bourgeois
sentiments, narrow-minded, satirical sentiments; they inoculated manly souls
with contempt for such great things as one performs disinterestedly.  This
disdain is a sure element of decay, and we may regard it as an announcement of

     Against the knights who, here and there, showed themselves unworthy and
degenerate, was put in practice the terrible apparatus of degradation. Modern
historians of chivalry have not failed to describe in detail all the rites of
this solemn punishment, and we have presented to us a scene which is well
calculated to excite the imagination of the most matter-of-fact, and to make
the most timid heart swell.

     The knight judicially condemned to submit to this shame was first
conducted to a scaffold, where they broke or trod under foot all his weapons.
He saw his shield, with device effaced, turned upside down and trailed in the
mud.  Priests, after reciting prayers for the vigil of the dead, pronounced
over his head the psalm, "Deus laudem meam," which contains terrible
maledictions against traitors.  The herald of arms who carried out this
sentence took from the hands of the pursuivant of arms a basin full of dirty
water, and threw it all over the head of the recreant knight in order to wash
away the sacred character which had been conferred upon him by the accolade.
The guilty one, degraded in this way, was subsequently thrown upon a hurdle,
or upon a stretcher, covered with a mortuary cloak, and finally carried to the
church, where they repeated the same prayers and the same ceremonies as for
the dead.

     This was really terrible, even if somewhat theatrical, and it is easy to
see that this complicated ritual contained only a very few ancient elements.
In the twelfth century the ceremonial of degradation was infinitely more
simple.  The spurs were hacked off close to the heels of the guilty knight.
Nothing could be more summary or more significant.  Such a person was publicly
denounced as unworthy to ride on horseback, and consequently quite unworthy to
be a knight.  The more ancient and chivalrous, the less theatrical is it.  It
is so in many other institutions in the histories of all nations.

     That such a penalty may have prevented a certain number of treasons and
forfeitures we willingly admit, but one cannot expect it to preserve all the
whole body of chivalry from that decadence from which no institution of human
establishment can escape.

     Notwithstanding inevitable weaknesses and accidents, the Decalogue of
Chivalry has none the less been regnant in some millions of souls which it has
made pure and great.  These ten commandments have been the rules and the reins
of youthful generations, who without them would have been wild and
undisciplined.  This legislation, in fact - which, to tell the truth, is only
one of the chapters of the great Catholic Code - has raised the moral level of

     Besides, chivalry is not yet quite dead.  No doubt, the ritual of
chivalry, the solemn reception, the order itself, and the ancient oaths, no
longer exist.  No doubt, among these grand commandments there are many which
are known only to the erudite, and which the world is unacquainted with.  The
Catholic Faith is no longer the essence of modern chivalry; the Church is no
longer seated on the throne around which the old knights stand with their
drawn swords; Islam is no longer the hereditary enemy; we have another which
threatens us nearer home; widows and orphans have need rather of the tongues
of advocates than of the iron weapon of the knights; there are no more duties
toward liege-lords to be fulfilled; and we even do not want any kind of
superior lord at all; largesse is now confounded with charity; and the
becoming hatred of evil-doing is no longer our chief, our best, passion!

     But whatever we may do there still remains to us, in the marrow, a
certain leaven of chivalry which preserves us from death.  There are still in
the world an immense number of fine souls - strong and upright souls - who
hate all that is small and mean, who know and who practise all the delicate
promptings of honor, and who prefer death to an unworthy action or to a lie!

     That is what we owe to chivalry, that is what it has bequeathed to us. On
the day when these last vestiges of such a grand past are effaced from our
souls - we shall cease to exist!